Death has visited my community quite often recently, and it has not spared my family either. I don’t believe I am alone in my dread and discomfort with death. I hate the thought of being separated from my loved ones. Most days I try not to think about it, pretend it doesn’t exist or won’t happen to me, despite the overwhelming historical evidence otherwise…everyone dies.
Growing up, the fear of death used to keep me up at night. I was the youngest and figured everyone in my family was going to die before me, leaving me alone. As I have grown, my relationship with death has changed. I still don’t like it, but there is less fear, greater respect, and deeper appreciation for the role death plays in life. For instance, I am realizing how the knowledge of death actually deepens my gratitude of life.
In the timeless wisdom revealed through Jigsaw (from Saw II):
The knowledge of death changes everything. If I were to tell you the exact date and time of your death it would shatter your world completely. I know. Can you imagine what it feels like to have someone sit you down and tell you that you’re dying? The gravity of that? That the clock’s ticking for you. In a split second, your world is cracked open. You look at things differently, smell things differently. You savor everything, be it a glass of water or a walk in the park.
When I live, not in the dread, but in the reality of death I am more grateful for life. I am learning to slow down and truly savor my cup of coffee, the embrace of a friend, and even all the quirks and craziness of my family. It is strange to consider it this way, but I love better because of death. Death makes me grateful because its gravity cracks my heart open and allows me to live life to the fullest.
This does not mean that death is now something I get excited about or look forward to per se. And I probably won’t mention it as we are all gathered around the Thanksgiving table. But Wisdom reminds me to go into the house of mourning and consider death, which is good for my soul (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4).
In a sense, to welcome death is to welcome life, and for this I am grateful.
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.” –John 12:24